I cannot handle myself. Or at least my feelings are the things I cannot handle. NYU Tisch Drama Stageworks’ production of Ragtime has left feeling as if I would be incapable of processing much more. My mind is reeling, trying to process the tumultuous period of America and how heavily it still parallels modern America. I could very well see modern mothers and fathers contemplating the suffering of their children before their own, just as I see it so blatant in the musical. And maybe that could be what troubles me. That so many think the most tumultuous time in America’s history has passed us, that it’s long over. But I am not sure it is. I live in supposedly one of the greatest cities in the world, and I see more suffering than most. And yet, on the occasion that I leave Manhattan, and head to Brooklyn, I find myself immersed in a type of life that does not require suffering for payment.
But back to the topic at hand. Ragtime held a brilliance all it’s own that I’m not sure can be replicated. Well, perhaps it could. But I would like to think I just witnessed its best production. For I am not quite sure how it could improve. Between the intricate stage and beautifully complex cast, I felt overwhelmed. Even now, having watched the musical in its entirety, I find that my mind and heart have yet to fully process the ramifications of all that was on stage, all the words, movements, expressions, sounds. Even then, I am positive that I will forever be incapable of understanding all that the piece has to offer, because it is so laden with arguments to justify, with stances on which to agree or disagree. But those choices have to be consciously made a some point or another, how you treat a person based on social class, race, gender, heritage, sexual orientation, etc. Granted, Ragtime only deals with so much, but it’s the initiation of a inner dialogue of how to act and think a certain way.
Again, NYU Tisch produced a sublime musical, and I would see it again if I thought my heart could handle it. Phenomenal performance. Unparalleled production. Cannot wait for more.
Photo credit: me